5 reasons why the Warriors won't repeat as champs
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma City Thunder's Paul George (13), Russell Westbrook, center, and Carmelo Anthony (7) pose for a photo during an NBA basketball media day in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Over the past three years, the Golden State Warriors ended the regular season with the best record in the NBA.
The last team to do that?
Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics.
From 1984 to 1986, the Celtics were the winningest team in the league entering the playoffs, and Bird was the MVP in each of those seasons. But, like Golden State, Boston only won the NBA Championship in two out of those three years. Magic Johnson and the LA Lakers were able to steal one away from the Celtics in 1985, just like LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers did in 2016 against the Warriors.
While Boston’s streak in the 80’s ended at three, all signs point to Golden State winning the most games in the 2017-18 edition of the NBA. But, because history has proven that winning the regular season does not guarantee a championship, I am here to say that there are several possible scenarios where the Warriors fail to repeat as champions.
Here they are:
1. The OKC Thunder shock the world in the WCF
Having four All-Stars on a team has become the standard for winning in the NBA. This offseason, various franchises desperately attempted to match the firepower of Golden State, to no avail. But, I believe that the team that has come the closest to reaching the high bar the Warriors have set is Oklahoma City. If the Houston Rockets had a “puncher’s chance” of beating them last year, I’d say that this version of the Thunder has more than that. In fact, I think that OKC has as much chance of beating GSW as Canelo Alvarez has against Gennady Golovkin.
Russell Westbrook is the league’s reigning MVP. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have been the faces of the franchises they used to represent. I don’t think Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are players you can build a team around. Therefore, in terms of the star power that both teams possess, it’s pretty much even. Yes, the Warriors have the better supporting, cast but this is a superstar-driven league and in this particular match-up, I like OKC’s chances.
In my last piece, I said that I expect to see a “shootout for the ages” in the WCF between these two teams. In this scenario, I think the hunger of OKC’s Big Three could be the deciding factor of the series.
2. Cleveland evens up the rivalry
Now, let’s say the Dubs survive the Thunder and return to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight duel against the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving may no longer be around but the Cavaliers added a former MVP in Derrick Rose, a three-time champion in Dwyane Wade and a 28.9 PPG dynamo in Isaiah Thomas. What if Rose and Wade turn back the clock and IT enters the Finals with a clean bill of health? I’d say the Cavs become the favorites when you add those three to King James and Kevin Love. And let’s not forget JR Smith and Tristan Thompson, starters during Cleveland’s championship squad, plus the addition of Jae Crowder. On their best day, the Cavaliers have what it takes to beat Golden State.
Of course, all of these parts coming together in the best condition at once is one big “IF.” But, if they magically show up in the Finals as the best version of themselves, that’s a dream team right there.
3. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant develop a Shaq-Kobe like feud
From 2000 to 2002, the LA Lakers ruled the NBA. The league’s iconic franchise had one of the most dominant centers the game of basketball has ever seen in Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan’s true heir apparent, Kobe Bryant, producing a three-peat despite constantly clashing like two protagonists in a Hollywood movie. Ultimately, only one of them could take the leading role and that is why their partnership ended. Could Curry and Durant eventually end up with the same predicament?
My guess is yes. There are various reasons out there that could create conflict between these two superstars. Top of mind is the fact that Curry makes way more money than Durant. The former just signed a five-year deal worth $201M while the latter took a pay cut to re-join the Warriors and is earning just $25M a year on average. To be more specific, Durant, who was named MVP of the 2017 NBA Finals last season is making $15M less than Curry this year. As the saying goes, “money is root of all evil.”
4. Draymond Green is actually what most people think he is
He’s admitted to have hit “rock bottom.” And not too long ago.
After being defeated by the Cavs in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Draymond Green was down in the dumps. He blamed himself for getting suspended in Game 5 after hitting LeBron James in the groin. It also wasn’t the first time Green hit another player in that area and because of that, the media portrayed him as a loose cannon. A phone call to Kobe Bryant may have restored Green’s confidence, but in today’s day and age, all it takes is one mistake for the media to pounce all over again.
Green explains that he is “crazy competitive.” Hence, the trash talk, flexing on the court and mind games off of it. It is because of Green’s extreme personality that he is under the microscope. If he succumbs to the pressure and gets suspended due to another groin-related incident or something else, it could cost the Warriors the Championship all over again.
5. US President Donald Trump exiles the entire team for not accepting the invitation to the White House
Clearly, I couldn’t think of any more reasons why the Warriors won’t win the NBA Championship again this year, since they’re actually better than they’ve ever been.
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